spinning


My hand and wrist are feeling much better, but I’ve been using my still-limited dexterity and strength on typing. (Mostly cover letters and venting about the job-hunt process.)

But TheGeorg on Ravelry had a spinning challenge for last week, and I was getting reeeeeally agitated without my usual calming activities (knitting, spinning, weaving, even most iPod games), so I decided to see how much I could spin without aggravating my hand.

I started with the skein on the right, on the Friday evening two weeks ago:

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And it zoooooomed. That, and all the other white yarn in this post, is from some mixed fleece I acquired in 2009 and sent off for washing and carding. It was just about perfect for real, unsupported long-draw. I had to make myself stop pulling out all the VM, and I definitely didn’t let myself care about making it even, but I kept going for about a week. With a break to ply up that Pond Scum once I worked out a setup for my ballwinder so I could use it comfortably, and not all-spinning-all-the-time, because that stuff did zoom along.  It only took a little over an hour per full bobbin of singles.

I ended up with this:

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It’s certainly more thick-and-thin than my usual yarn (and also a lot bulkier over all, but so fluffy!), but it’s remarkably consistent from skein to skein. I got between 115 and 135yds of 2ply from each of the eight bobbins I filled with singles.

But as much as I enjoyed spinning all that bright white yarn (I really did, which surprised me), I didn’t want a bright white object. One of the other Rav groups I’m in is running an ongoing SAL/KAL for sweaters, and someone linked to Leaflet, and I decided that this pile of yarn would be nice as a Leaflet with half-sleeves instead of cap sleeves. So…what color to dye it all? I went with the easiest option: onion skins. Which also has the side benefit of matching the cat, so his fur shouldn’t show up too much.

I ended up with this:

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Right now, I am waiting impatiently for it to finish drying (inside, now), and hoping that my hand will be recovered enough to swatch when the yarn is ready.

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I finally finished Bernhardt!
finished sweater!

back of sweater

Specs: I started with ~20 oz of handspun, from 2ply combo spins of fibers from Spunky Eclectic, Southern Cross Fibre, and Enchanted Knoll Farm. The finished sweater weighs about 14.5 oz.

I was working with Bernhardt as a pattern, but I reworked it a little to adapt to my smaller gauge and then worked seamless set-in sleeves because it seemed easier than trying to adjust for my different row gauge.  The other major modification I made was to work different sizes above and below the waist shaping.

I am very pleased with how it came out.  It is now beautifully wearable (I wore it today, and it was the perfect layer over a t-shirt), and the shawl stick I bought at MDSW a couple of years ago makes an excellent closure.

It’s not perfect, though–the shoulder shaping and the edging shaping around the shoulders could be better, and I really should’ve figured out how to work the three-needle bindoffs for the shoulders after I’d knit them up far enough.  So that means I can make the next sweater even better.

Good thing, too, as I’ve just finished the spinning on the Spring Mix sweater lot!  Here’s most of it, minus only the last 40yd skein of Flannel:

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I’m taking a break from sweater-spinning for a laceweightish gradient yarn, but I’ve got the next batch ready to go when I’m done.

October has been a pretty decent month.  I’m still unemployed and feeling antsy about it, but I’ve gotten to spend some time admiring the fall color and hanging out with awesome people.

Two weeks ago, I drove over to Manchester, NH to visit people at SOAR.  Once I got there, I spent the rest of the day inside the hotel, but the drive was utterly beautiful.  I’m not really a fan of getting up early, but it was lovely to be off in time to see the sunlight on the morning valley fog.  SOAR itself (okay, the marketplace and the collection of people, since the only activity I observed was the fashion show) was great.  I ran into friends as soon as I walked through the door, and I got to spend hours and hours with people I don’t get to see enough.  The one problem, really, was that I only had ~13 hours of interaction.  Internettily, though, I suppose it didn’t happen, since I took no photos.

Oh!  But I do have a photo of a bit of yarn I spun on Friday morning, when Rosemary let me play with her milk-cap spindle (made by JimBob):

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That was quite an interesting spindle. I usually spin on medium-sized spindles that start off weighing about an ounce and weigh at least twice that by the time I’m finished. So a spindle that can’t possibly have weighed more than ~10g…it wanted to spin very, very fine yarn. The sample above is from singles I wrapped around my fingers and then allowed to coil up, so it’s effectively something like a 2×6 cabled yarn.

And then, this past weekend, I drove down to Rhinebeck. I camped at Lake Taghkanic State Park again, in a cottage this year (rather than a cabin), and it was almost perfect. The setting was lovely, and the rain politely allowed me to unload and then reload the car in the dry (even if the ground was squelchy).

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Again, I didn’t take any pictures of people (though I know I’m in a few), but I did take some of sheep and goats:

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It was a weird Rhinebeck for me–for the last few years, I’ve made a thorough circuit of all the booths and spent most of my time looking at things, even when I didn’t buy much. This year, though, I prioritized finding people. So I started with booths where I knew people, and then flitted (a bit) from one set of friends to another, wishing I had at least three times as much time with each group.

Except for Sunday morning, when I wasn’t wandering about with people because I was in a class: Getting More Done With Spindles, taught by Abby Franquemont. It was a lot of fun, and it’s gotten me thinking about actual productivity versus perceived productivity, and I’ve learned at least two new techniques.

I learned something else last Sunday, in a much less enjoyable situation: if I’m going to attempt a 4+-hour drive on back roads on a Sunday evening (or, really, any evening), it is wise to acquire plenty of caffeine when it is there, whether I need it immediately or not. Since I miscalculated (and the restaurant where I’d intended to stop must’ve been closed and unlit, since I totally missed it), what had been a 4.5hr trip on Friday turned into a 7-hr trip on Sunday night.  (On the trip down, I spent much of the drive looking at the gorgeous foliage and plotting how best to get those colors into fiber/yarn/garments.  More about that later.)

I’m back now, though, much to Mel’s satisfaction.

Bliss.

It is definitely lapcat season around here.

I’m still working on Bernhardt, hoping to be able to wear it at Rhinebeck.

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I’m still not certain about the sleeve cap shaping, so I’m working on the second sleeve for now.

And I’ve spun some of the yarn from the Spring Mix batch of fibers:

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I’ve also been carding more, some for projects and some for just playing around:

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Except when there’s construction or serious lawnmowing or something, carding (on the enclosed back porch) is really peaceful, so the just-for-fun batts are especially refreshing.

Nothing much else worth reporting on today…  So I should get back to the job-hunting and the apple-drying and the jamming.  And the knitting.

This week hasn’t been especially bloggably interesting, and it’s been hot enough that I haven’t taken my camera outside–all of my garden time has been raspberry picking.  I did make a third batch of jam…

I have, however, continued spinning.  One of the projects I thought I’d get to during the Tour (really, a project I devised while digging for other (specific) things for TdF spinning) is another mixed lot of handpainted tops to spin together for a sweater lot.  The basic set looks like this:

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though I’ve added another one, a blue-green-grey targhee.  I split each braid into ~1 oz pieces, spread them out, and paired up the various bits, making sure to keep each pair unique.  (I’m spinning 2-ply yarns, plying any leftovers back with themselves until I start having duplicates of the leftovers.)

And I thought that, since I was starting to spin for another sweater, I ought to start knitting the one I spun for last fall. This batch of yarns

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is on its way to becoming a Bernhardt. I had a little trouble getting started, since my gauge is a bit different and the pattern phrases things in ways that are not entirely intuitive to me, but I’m about half an inch into the hem ribbing and really enjoying it.

With any luck, I’ll have a lot more done by next week–I’ll have upwards of 12 hours in the car over the next couple of days, so plenty of knitting time.

Not a travel post!  Whee!  There’s still a fair amount going on, though rather different stuffs.  First, as many of you know, there’s a spinners’ event called the Tour de Fleece in which much yarn is made during the Tour de France.  (Some people watch the TV coverage of the bicycling, but lots of us don’t.)  I got a fair bit of spinning done this year.  Less than I’d hoped, I’ll admit, but I’m happy with my pile of fresh yarns.

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These are Shetland, Wensleydale, Polwarth, Merino/silk/camel, and Merino/Corriedale, with a couple of partly-spun batts (not my carding) in the back.  I also finished spinning a couple of other yarns that didn’t make it into this photo.  (The ones on the left side here have been washed; the ones on the right have not.)

One of the things that’s been distracting me from spinning and job-hunting has been raspberry-picking.  It’s taking even longer these days, as it’s the peak of the first crop of red raspberries (there’re fewer black raspberries, so they’re faster to pick).  This is what I picked on Thursday:

Good thing I grabbed the larger bowl.

Yes, there are some not-raspberries in there.  That bowl holds about two quarts, though, and it was totally full yesterday and overflowingly full today.  Which is why there’s also a (second) tray of raspberries in the freezer, plus two batches of raspberry jam on the counter.

The garden is full of lovely inedible things, too:

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That’s a black-eyed Susan and a buttonbush in bloom.

Random Wednesday is a good way to try to catch up, right?

Anyway. Stuffs. I’m still working on revisions to my thesis, but I’ve got a few other things to share here.

First, the weaving I learned in that class I went to Michigan for:

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I had a fantastic time that weekend, despite the stresses of all that driving (after a couple months of not driving at all). It was great to get to hang out with fiber people, and really fun to learn something totally new. Also, though SE Michigan and NW Ohio are kinda disturbingly flat, I’m glad I got to see them, and it was good to get to see the scenery around Pittsburgh again. It’s been quite a while since Pittsburgh was the nearest big city, but I used to see those hills on a pretty regular basis. (Philly, though less freakishly flat than the parts of Michigan near the highways I took, does not have scenic hills. Except in the northwestern bits, but those only sorta count, because they’re smaller hills and I rarely see them.)

…And some yarn:

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This is a batt from Enchanted Knoll Farm, in the Titania colorway, made from wool from Josette’s sheep. Very, very nice.

…And a happy cat:

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Mel turned six last week, and he got to spend part of the day sitting in the sunshine, with the warm air from the fridge as an extra treat.

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